The Los Angeles Dodgers appear a bit dated if you look at the names on their roster like Chase Utley and Carl Crawford, but the reality is this franchise has a mother lode of young talent that will render those names of fantasy past non-descript this season.
It is the names of Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson that will truly make the Dodgers a contender in the NL West and one of the fantasy gold mines for 2016. The Dodgers are a rich franchise in more than just how they spend money. They have a lot of young players ready to make significant contributions—ones that don’t yet have the fantasy cache and high price tags.
Toss in the fact most of their young talent—save for Kershaw or Seager—enters spring training in precarious circumstances for playing time at the start of the season, and you have a perfect storm of some undervalued fantasy commodities for Draft Day. That’s where the true fantasy excitement comes in Dodgers training camp this season.
This will be a strong and deep team that can overcome injury—please Kershaw, keep looking invincible!—and unveil some big-time fantasy producers out of the woodwork.
We take a blow-by-blow look at the Dodgers here, but honestly, there myriad different talents that can rise for us, so consider anything happening at Dodgers Stadium this season to be a fluid situation.
Projected Go-To Dodgers Lineup
- 2B Enrique Hernandez
- SS Corey Seager
- 3B Justin Turner
- 1B Adrian Gonzalez
- RF Yasiel Puig
- LF Andre Either
- C Yasmani Grandal
- CF Joc Pederson
The Dodgers have some questions to answer at second base and atop the order, but no one is going to deny the potential of Seager, 21, or the consistent veteran presence of Gonzalez, who is now in the twilight of his career at age 33. Puig has declined in each of his three seasons, but it is all too easy to forget he is a 25-year-old a long way from his native Cuba and his true fantasy ceiling. The Dodgers are going to be good offensively, or they will make way for a slew of prospects following Seager up the ladder.
Dodgers Starting Rotation
- LH Clayton Kershaw
- LH Scott Kazmir
- LH Brett Anderson
- LH Hyun-Jin Ryu
- RH Kenta Maeda
Zack Greinke has jumped ship from this top-heavy rotation, leaving it leaning to the port side with the veteran lefties led by the incomparable Kershaw. His 301-strikeout campaign came at the age of 27, of course, but we see no reason to expect anything but shear and utter dominance from one of the greatest left-handers, or any-hander, the game has ever known. Ryu, coming off labrum surgery, and Maeda, signed from Japan at age 27 are wild cards at the back of what is a rebuilt but still stacked rotation. The Dodgers are strong and deep, especially when you consider Alex Wood is in the mix as well.
- RH Kenly Jansen (closer)
- RH Pedro Baez (setup)
- LH J.P. Howell (setup)
- RH Chris Hatcher (middle man)
- LH Luis Avilan (situational)
- RH Yimi Garcia (middle man)
The overall quality of the Dodgers, not to mention a power right arm in the smack dab of his prime at age 28, makes Jansen one of the elite closers in all of fantasy. He’s backed by a strong and deep bullpen, a quality rotation and everyday lineup and not challenged to have to share save chances at this point in his career. Jansen, who is entering the always sought-after fantasy status of a contract year, is going to be the fourth closer off the board behind Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel and Wade Davis, so you could make a case that gives Jansen the best value relative to draft position of the elite closer options.
2016 Los Angeles Dodgers Fantasy Studs: Clayton Kershaw
The Dodgers boast the best starting pitcher in fantasy (Kershaw), an elite closer (Jansen), the NL Rookie of the Year favorite (Seager)—each are top-four picks at their fantasy positions—and loads more in the way of opportunity and emerging young talent. It doesn’t even matter Greinke went to the Arizona Diamondbacks to team up with a potential No. 1 overall pick 1B Paul Goldschmidt.
The Dodgers are still the class of the NL West and should provide the best bang for the fantasy buck this season.
Breakout Candidates: SS Corey Seager, 21; OF Joc Pederson, 23; OF Yasiel Puig, 25; C Yasmani Grandal, 27
Here are the various reasons we have mentioned multiple times the Dodgers present us with fantasy opportunities and “bang for the buck.” This fearsome foursome is all still before their statistical prime with room to grow into fantasy super stars. Sure, Pederson looks more like a modern-day Adam Dunn than a reliable run producer, but that power potential is immense.
Puig is the enigma. When he debuted with .319-19-42-66-11 as a rookie in 2013, it looks as if he would emerge as a potential No. 1 overall fantasy pick. Now, he’s hardly top 25 among outfielders. The hype has waned, perhaps, but the fantasy value relative to draft position oozes opportunity and value for us now more than ever.
Sleeper Candidates: OF Joc Pederson, 23; OF Yasiel Puig, 25; C Yasmani Grandal, 27; 2B/OF Enrique Hernandez, 24
We already stole some of the sleeper thunder, putting three of these guys as breakout candidates with Seager above. As much as Seager is an obvious Fantasy breakout candidate as a rookie, it is Grandal and Puig who are closest to their prime and capable of posting a career year in 2016.
The first three have potentially elite power at their positions, even if you might not love them playing half of their games in a notorious pitcher’s park at Dodgers Stadium. Puig is the early round sleeper who could emerge into a .290-30-100-100-10 beast, while Pederson will drop into the middle rounds and Grandal perhaps into the late rounds, because of the marginal impact of the catcher position.
Hernandez is just off the fantasy radar to open spring training, but if he wins the starting second baseman job over Chase Utley and prospect Micah Johnson, you will be finding Hernandez making an impact in fantasy on a circumstantial basis.
Bust Candidates: 3B Justin Turner, 31
In order to go bust you have to be drafted to do something special in fantasy. We cannot attack the likes of Kershaw, Jansen or A-Gone, so the veteran Turner coming off a career year and offseason microfracture surgery is the leading Dodgers bust candidate.
That surgery has been one of the worst to try to come back from, much less to be as productive as ever. Turner might never be the hitter was he was 2015, so don’t dare draft him as a starter in fantasy. The fact Cuban Alex Guerrero is younger and could break out might affect Turner’s at-bats as much as his dicey knee.
— Cut4 (@Cut4) January 30, 2016
Top Rookies: SS Corey Seager, LHP Julio Urias, 19
The Dodgers have the 2016 Rookie of the Year preseason front-runner in the 21-year-old Seager, the younger brother of the Mariners’ Kyle Seager. If Corey’s September numbers (.337-4-17-17-2) were any indication, fantasy has a future—err, immediate—star on its hands here. It is not often we get a lefty-swinging shortstop with 20-plus homer potential. If you liked the Carlos Correa’s fantasy production (.279-22-68-52-14), you’re going to want to jump on Seager in ‘16. He already ranks among the elite options at the thin shortstop position on 20-homer potential alone.
As if the Dodgers don’t have enough good left-handed starters, Urias is widely regarded as one of the best left-handed prospects in baseball. He is just 19 years old, so he is expected to open the year in the minors, but he is going to be a well-chronicled arm for a potential May or June call-up if the Dodgers’ veteran rotation succumbs to early injury.
What Should We Know About the 2016 Los Angeles Dodgers?
It is possible the Dodgers’ young talent throws up a stinker like the disappointing seasons Puig has posted for us since his rookie year. It is far less possible all of it disappoints at once. When you consider the mix of veterans and potential breakthroughs here, the Dodgers have their bases covered on creating strong value at the plate and on the mound for us in all types of fantasy leagues. It is the best kind of value, too, the unrealized kind.
Eric Mack is a sports writer for FanDuel.com/Insider. Before becoming full engrossed into daily fantasy sports phenomenon, he was a season-long fantasy analyst at Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated and CBSSports.com. You can catch his daily quips on Twitter @EricMackFantasy.
- 2016 Los Angeles Dodgers Team Preview: Fantasy 30 for 30 - February 2, 2016